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Snack wisely

Nichole Beaudry strives to capture the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments with her children. She earned her undergraduate degree in English from The University of Texas and her master’s in English from California State Un...

Healthy kids' snacks with a purpose

From SheKnows Canada
Whether your kids are headed off to soccer practice, sitting down to tackle a pile of homework, starving from a long afternoon or feeling hungry at bedtime, here's how to choose the right snack for the right situation.

Little girl peeling banana for snack

Kids and snacks go hand in hand. As a parent, you can pair the right snack with the right activity and teach your kids healthy eating habits.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes the importance of choosing healthy snacks for kids: "Snacks make up an important part of childhood nutrition. Children must eat frequently. With their small stomachs, they cannot eat enough at meals alone for their high-energy needs. Three meals and 2 or 3 healthy snacks a day help children to meet their daily nutrition needs."

Here are the snacking scenarios:

Mid-morning munchies

For children, the hours between breakfast and lunch can feel like an eternity. Sending them off with mid-morning snack that is low in both sugar and fat will keep them feeling great until lunchtime.

  • String cheese and an apple
  • Yogurt and a banana
  • Carrot sticks and low-fat cottage cheese
  • Whole wheat pita triangles and hummus

Try some of these foods to fuel the day >>

Sports snacks

Before kids head out for an afternoon of sports, they should fuel up with low-fat, high carbohydrate snacks. The carbs will provide them with sustained energy and lower-fat snacks won't weigh them down.

  • Whole-grain crackers and cheese
  • Applesauce with graham crackers
  • Watermelon and whole-grain pretzels
  • Whole-grain bagel and low-sugar jam

Homework helpers

After a long day at school, when kids sit down to tackle homework, they need foods that will help them to focus. The best snack choices are high in fibre, but low in fat and sugar. The fibre will stick with them while they're doing their work. Choosing snacks that are low in sugar will prevent a crash midway through.

  • Apples with peanut butter
  • Snack mix and a banana
  • Smoothie made with low-fat yogurt and frozen fruit (throw in some flaxseed for an extra boost) 
  • Strawberries and a piece of whole-grain toast

See more great after-school snack ideas >>

Bedtime bites

Many kids need one last snack before they head off to bed. To help them sleep well, avoid heavy snacks and offer foods (like dairy) with tryptophan, which helps to release serotonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Pair tryptophan with complex carbs to give kids a snack that offers some extra help for falling asleep.

  • Whole-grain cereal with milk
  • Milk and a small whole-grain cookie
  • Yogurt sprinkled with granola
  • Oatmeal with milk

By choosing healthy snacks with a purpose, you'll be teaching your children that food is fuel, and in time, they'll learn how to make healthy choices for themselves.

More on kids and healthy eating

Ways to keep kids full longer
Healthy snack recipes for kids
Real moms share: Simple snacks my kids love

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